Akron City Council members still want to crack down on homeowners who sell their houses without disclosing pending violations to buyers.
They just want more time to figure out the best way to do it.
Council President Garry Moneypenny, who sponsored legislation with Mayor Don Plusquellic, is seeking input from local elected officials who have backgrounds in real estate, and outside groups, including the Akron Board of Realtors. A meeting will be held Friday afternoon.
“This is a work in progress,” Moneypenny said Monday during a Housing Committee meeting. “We want to fine-tune it.”
The legislation would require a seller to provide written notification of any housing and zoning violations to a buyer. Failure to do so would be a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in jail.
The ordinance is in response to a high-profile case involving Larry Modic, a veteran who bought a house in Akron not realizing it had numerous violations and was on the path to being demolished. Modic sued Akron to try to save his house, but a judge sided with the city and the house is expected to be torn down this morning.
“We stand by the law department,” Moneypenny said. “We want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Moneypenny said he doesn’t want the legislation to be a “knee-jerk” reaction to Modic’s case. He’s sought input from Councilmen Jeff Fusco and Donnie Kammer, both who have real estate backgrounds, and Summit County Councilman Jerry Feeman, who also has experience in this area. He invited several outside groups with an interest in the legislation to attend a meeting to discuss the legislation at 1 p.m. Friday.
Summit County may consider legislation similar to Akron’s proposal, Moneypenny said.
Monepenny said he is leaning toward a tiered offense, in which the penalties would get more severe for subsequent violations. He said criminal convictions could help bolster civil cases filed by home buyers who weren’t told about pending housing violations.
Sandy LoCascio, a member of the Akron Board of Realtors, told council members Monday that her group doesn’t oppose the legislation, but wants to make sure it isn’t redundant with information sellers already are required to disclose.
“We are asking you to step back and examine the proper way to do this,” said LoCascio, who has been a Realtor for 33 years. “We are concerned about when this information would be given to the buyer.”
Duane Groeger, Akron’s housing administrator, said he routinely hears from people who have purchased houses who claim they didn’t realize the properties had housing violations pending against them. He said these new homeowners rarely decide to take any action against the sellers, instead taking care of the violations themselves.
Groeger said Realtors, potential buyers and the public often call the Housing Department to find out if a house has any pending violations. The city is looking at setting up an easier way for people to access this information.
Council’s Housing Committee will again discuss the legislation at its meeting next Monday. People who want to address the committee may call the council clerk’s office at 330-375-2256.